TOP > Sightseeing Highlights> Kiryu Area Nature Guide> Kiryu Fauna

1. Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey) - nihonzaru (Macaca fustucata)
The ever popular Japanese monkeys have been seen in the Umeda and Hishi districts of Kiryu. For the most part, the monkeys are usually just passing through on their way to some other destination. In years when the food supply is short, macaques have been known to come into human settlements to feed on sweet potatoes, chestnuts and mulberries. Their usual habitat is just north of Kiryu, from the town of Ashio north to the Nikko area. Male macaques reach 53 - 60 cm in height and weigh from 10 to 18 kg. Their tales range from 8 to 12 cm in length.
Japanese Macaque
or Snow Monkey
2. Japanese Hare - no'usagi (Lepus brachyurus)
The coats of the hares living in the Kiryu area do not change to white as do more northern hares and they are generally smaller than Hokkaido jackrabbits. They are medium brown in color and are of the Kyushu variety. The hares live predominantly in the hills and mountains around the city and have been observed on the south face of Mt. Azuma and around the hills of the Hirosawa district. The hares sometimes chew on the bark of young cedar trees which results in damage to the trees and there have been some efforts made by the local hunting society to thin their population. Hares have also been observed in Umeda, near Mt. Narukami), in the Umeda-Hishi districts near the Senjingaoka area, in Tsutsumi and Miyamoto districts around Mt. Azuma, in Kawauchi near the monastery and in Hirosawa, near Kamo Shrine
Japanese Hare
3. Squirrel - risu (Sciurus lis)
This species of squirrel is unique to Japan. The squirrels are from 16 to 22 cm in size with an added tail length of 14 to 17 cm. They generally weigh from 250 to 310 g. They have been sighted in the Umeda, Miyamoto and Kawauchi districts of Kiryu. The population appears to be steady with no significant increase or decrease as of1986 when a study of local fauna was conducted. Squirrel nests have been seen in cedar trees. The squirrels feed on chestnuts and walnuts.
4. Japanese Small Flying Squirrel - momonga (Pteromys momonga)
This species of small flying squirrel is unique to Japan and its population around Kiryu is quite limited. Their body is from 14 to 20 cm in length, their tails from 10 to 14 cm and they weigh from 150 to 220 g. They have been observed only in the forests around Kawauchi and Umeda.
Small Flying Squirrel
5. White-cheeked Giant Flying Squirrel - musasabi (Petaurista leucogenys)
This species of giant flying squirrels is unique to Japan. They have been in the Kiryu area dating back to the Pleistocene Era as evidenced by the local fossil record. Decreasing food supplies and the loss of appropriate trees for nesting has resulted in a steady decline of their population. Giant flying squirrels are from 25 to 50 cm in length and have been observed feeding on the new shoots of cherry trees near Kiryu ga Oka Park. A family of giant flying squirrels was observevd in the Umeda 4 chome district. In addition to the Umeda and Miyamoto districts, giant flying squirrels have been observed in Nishi Hisakata and the Hirai districts of Kiryu.
Giant Flying Squirrel
6. Dormouse - yamane (Glirulus japonicus)
This species of dormouse is unique to Japan and they have been declared a rare species in danger of extinction (tennen kinen butsu). They are very small - from 68 mm in length to 84 mm. Their tail generally is between 4 and 5 cm long. Dormice have been observed living in the 5 chome Kawauchi district. While on Honshu, dormice typically are found only in high elevations (between 800 m to 1800 m), in the Kiryu area they have been observed in elevations under 800 m., including parts of Umeda and Kawauchi.
Japanese Dormouse
7. Asiatic Black Bear - tsukinowa kuma (Selenarctos thibetanus japonicus)
These bears have a characteristic white crescent on their chest. They reach 120 to 150 cm in height and can weigh from 40 to 130 kg. A survey of the "tsukinowa" (crescent) bear population in the Kiryu area some years back indicated that there were about 25 bears living in the mountains, however, it is felt that the number probably exceeds this considerably. The bears feed on wild grapes, akebi (a kind of wild fruit) and other berries. When these supplies are insufficient, bears have been known to enter human settlements in search of persimmons, chestnuts, corn, plums and honey. In addition to vegetation, bears also feed on local wild animals such as wild boars. Bears in the Kiryu area undergo semi-hibernation in winter and in spring often attack red cedar trees to drink the sweet sap, usually killing the trees as a result. Bears have been observed in the Umeda, Kawauchi, Hishi, Miyamoto and Tenjin (rarely) districts of Kiryu. They are basically very shy, are rarely seen and are dangerous only during the spring when mothers are particularly protective of their cubs.
Asiatic Black Bear
8. Raccoon Dog - tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
The number of raccoon dogs and foxes in the Kiryu area is said to be on the increase. Since Kiryu is surrounded by mountains, there are many cases of raccoon dogs approaching human settlements. They often appear in early evening in search of food. Raccoon dogs have been observed in Tsutsumi, Kawauchi, Umeda, Aioi, Miyamoto, Hishi, Hirosawa, Suidoyama, and Nishi Hisakata districts of Kiryu.
Raccoon Dog
9. Red Fox - kitsune (Vulpes vulpes)
Foxes, like raccoon dogs, approach human settlements in search of food. In 1985, foxes were seen in the Aioi 4 chome area, near the city Sanitation Center. Like raccoon dogs, foxes are sometimes killed in traffic accidents. Red foxes are about 60 to 76 cm long (excluding their bushy tails) and have been observed in the Umeda, Aioi, Hirosawa, Kawauchi and Hishi districts of Kiryu.
Red Fox
10. Marten - ten (Martes melampus)
The marten or Japanese sable has a beautiful yellow coat in winter. Their number is said to be decreasing. Martens are generally 40 to 50 cm long and have been declared a rare species in danger of extinction (tennen kinen butsu) in some parts of Japan. They have been observed in the Umeda and Hishi districts of Kiryu. Most recently, martens have been sighted in the woods near the Kiryu Outdoor Youth Activities Center in Umeda.
Japanese Marten
11. Japanese Yellow Weasel - itachi (Mustela sibirica itatsi)
Weasels are yellow - brownish in color and are from 27 to 37 cm in length. Their tail is from 12 to 16 cm. They have been observed all over the city of Kiryu. They are occasionally caught in mouse traps. In particular, weasels live in the Umeda, Aioi, Miyoshi, Hirosawa and Miyamoto districts of Kiryu.
Japanese Yellow Weasel
12. Badger - anaguma (Meles meles)
Badgers are from 45 to 55 cm in length and males weigh from 5 to 11 kg. They have been observed all over the city of Kiryu, however, their number is said to be decreasing. Specifically, badgers have been seen in the Hishi, Miyamoto, Kawauchi, Hirosawa, Umeda and Tsutsumi districts.
13. Masked Palm Civet - hakubishin (Paguma larvata)
Masked palm civets have been observed in many neighboring prefectures, including, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Fukushima and Nagano. Within Gunma Prefecture, the masked palm civet has been seen in Minakami, Tone Village, Nakazato Village and Matsuida. Civets were unknown in the Tomo area, however, in 1984, they were seen in Minami Park in the Hirosawa district of Kiryu. Adult civets are generally from 61 to 66 cm in length.
Masked Palm Civet
14. Japanese Deer - shika (Cervus nippon)
The Nikko National Park area is well-known as a natural deer habitat. At one time, before the district of Umeda was incorporated with the city of Kiryu, the village issued licenses to hunt deer. Up to around 1945, the mating calls of deer could often be heard in the upper reaches of Umeda. Deer have also been seen in Kawauchi and their antlers have sometimes been found in the woods. An average buck can reach up to 190 cm in length, from head to tail.
Japanese Deer
15. Japanese Serow - kamoshika (Capricornis crispus)
Although far from numerous, the Japanese serow has been observed in the Umeda and Kawauchi districts of Kiryu. These animals are similar in appearance to the Alpine chamois goats and can be seen more frequently north of Kiryu in the Ashio and Nikko areas. Serow are unique to Japan and have been declared a special rare species in danger of extinction (toku betsu tennen kinen butsu). Males are from 70 to 85 cm in length.
Japanese Serow
16. Wild Boar - inoshishi (Sus scrofa)
The population of wild boar is on a sharp increase in the Kiryu area. They are frequently sited in Umeda, Kawauchi and other districts of Kiryu. Sows with their young raid the garbage in waste collection stations and can be seen year round in the city. In recent years, wild boar have frequently ramaged local gardens in search of food. Other than bear, wild boar have no natural enemies and frequently feed on garbage. The local hunting society now conducts annual hunting parties to try to thin the population, but with little success to date.
Wild Boar
Text based primarily on faunal and ecological surveys carried out mainly during the period from April 1983 to March 1986 and published by the Kiryu City Board of Education in "Fauna of Kiryu", 1987.

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